Q&A: Chris Jericho of Fozzy
Chris Jericho had two dreams growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: He wanted to become a professional wrestler and musician.
He has been successful at both. The WWE superstar's band, Fozzy, is releasing its fifth album, "Sin and Bones," on Aug. 14 through Century Media Records. The heavy metal act will also be a part of this summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival.
"When I was a kid, I started playing in bands when I was 12," Jericho said in telephone interview with SoundSpike. "I had two dreams and I was able to pursue both of them. That is a pretty rare thing. I don't take it for granted. Some people go, 'You can't do both.' I say, 'Yes, I can. Watch me.'
"I've been nothing but a wrestling fan and a music fan since I was a young kid. I just couldn't decide which one of them I wanted to do. So I said, 'I'll do them both.' I'll be the first singer-wrestler the same way that Jared Leto is the first actor-singer with 30 Seconds to Mars. The only person who will tell you you can't do it is you. If you say you can do it, then you have to make it happen."
For the past three years, Jericho has been working Fozzy full time, returning to wrestling only when the band is recording or on break.
Jericho spoke to SoundSpike about the Uproar tour, the inspiration behind "Sin and Bones" and the collaboration with Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows on the song "Sandpaper."
SoundSpike: You must be excited about the Uproar tour.
Chris Jericho: Yeah, very excited. I mean, after doing this for 13 years, we've never done a full U.S. tour. So not only is it a full U.S. tour, it's one of the biggest of the summer. So we're really, really pumped about it, excited to get there and steal the show and tear some heads off every night.
How are you going to balance that with wrestling?
I'll be done wrestling at that point. You can't balance them both. I came back to wrestling when we were recording "Sin and Bones," knowing that as soon as the record came out, I'd be done with the WWE. That's what's happened. I think the last gig is the same day as the record comes out, Aug. 14, then we go straight to Uproar and then we're off.
I'm so happy for you, to be added to a tour like that and be taken seriously is a great thing.
We did Uproar last year for a week and a half, and played with Sevendust on some shows. I don't know if that was our audition or whatever. When they were putting together the lineup for this year, we wanted to be on it and we got the opportunity to. Like you said, being on the road is a blast. It's going to be a lot of fun to be on the road in our own country. We spent so much time in other countries. I know a lot of our fans are like, "Why don't you come to the States? Why don't you come to the States?" We're always in the U.K. and France, Germany, Australia -- all over the place. To actually kick off the tour for "Sin and Bones" in our own country is something very, very cool.
Why haven't you done a full U.S. tour before?
Just didn't really have the opportunity or the time to do it. We've always done really well in Europe and, for whatever reason, we spent a lot of time over there. I think when [2010's] "Chasing the Grail" came out, we focused almost exclusively on Europe and the U.K., Australia, France and Germany and all these other places, Netherlands, Belgium. When you do a tour of the States, we wanted the first one to be the right one. We just never had the right opportunity. When Uproar came up, if you're going to go across the States for the first time, you want to do it on the biggest level possible. I think Uproar is the biggest level possible. Everything all kind of walked in, fell into place, it's a good time for us.
What inspired "Sin and Bones"?
"Chasing the Grail" did a lot for us, our last record in 2010. We got a lot of momentum built up for that and from the live shows that we played. We wanted to continue in the same vein in what we were doing with "Grail." We kind of figured out, after all these years, what it is that we could pass, which is very heavy riffs and melodic and hooky choruses. It's almost like if Metallica and Journey and Coldplay had a three way this is what ended up. We wanted to do more of that with "Sin and Bones." We kind of had this monster. We wanted to make it our "Black" album. What I mean by that is the "Black" album had all 12 songs that were all loosely related to each other. Not lyrically, but there's a certain feel to that record, a certain vibe to it. We wanted to do Fozzy's "Black" album by having 10 songs that all have a similar feel and a similar vibe and keep everything within the blocks. I think that's what we did. That's why this record is going to be a really big success. It's the epitome of who we are as a band, what we do songwriting and performance-wise.
What is the songwriting process like with Fozzy?
We have everything ready to go by the time we go to the studio. How it works is that I write the lyrics. When it's time, I always make a collection of song titles. If something intrigues me lyrically, I'll write it down, the song title, more specifically. When it comes time to write the lyrics, I'll look through my song titles and work backward from there. I'll come up with 12 to13 sets of lyrics, send them over to Rich [Ward, Fozzy guitarist]. He looks through them and starts writing based on the vibes that he feels from the lyrics I'm sending him. Sometimes, he'll say, "Listen, I need another part here. I had to cut this part, or I have a fast song that needs a little more aggressive-type lyrics." So I'll do that, but mostly I'll send him some lyrics and he starts working from there. He creates the riffs and the melodies of what we're going to be doing. So, it's a little bit different from the way that a lot of bands do it. Some bands write the music first and write the lyrics afterward. We're the opposite of that.
Who produced "Sin and Bones"?
It was produced by Rich Ward. I think he is an amazing producer. He did the "Chasing the Grail" record, too. I think everybody that's heard it -- all my friends that are musicians in other bands and stuff -- [says] the production's amazing, the production's great. I think you'll see Rich do more production in the future for a lot of different bands. He's very, very talented at it. The record sounds amazing.
Is it difficult to produce yourself?
I'm not producing myself so I like working with Rich. He knows how to get the best performances out of me. He's basically co-produced every record that we've done. This one, he really took the reins on his own. That might be a question you'd want to ask him. For me, he's my producer and I treat him as such. He's a great guy to work with. He knows exactly what I can do and he knows how to bring the best out of me.
What's the most important thing he brought out of you?
Probably just the best performance. We toured so much that I went to the studio prepared as a singer, knowing what I do best. Knowing what my wheelhouse is. As any singer would. You have to know what you do best. I took a couple chances songwriting-wise. Different types of melodies and some different ranges. There's a song called "A Passed Life" where I probably did some of my best singing I've ever done because of the mood and the vibe of the song. It's more of just working together for so long and knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses and being able to expand on those and exploit those.
How did the collaboration with M. Shadows come about?
Shadows has been a friend of mine for a while. We became really close when Mike Portnoy was in Avenged. When we were doing "Sandpaper," there's an intro part that's a little bit different. I was singing it and I was like, "This is OK but it's not as good as the rest of my performance. Maybe Rich should do this part because we do a lot of singing together." Then I called Matt to see if he felt it. So we sent Shadows the demo and he really got into it, not just vocally, but arrangement-wise. He put together a couple parts of the song that we weren't thinking about. It was really cool to have him involved, not just on a vocal level, but on an arrangement level, basically on a songwriting level. He really went to the next degree to make this happen. It was really, really cool to know not only was he involved but he was putting so much time and effort into it. We really definitely appreciated his contribution. It really helped it out and paid off huge for us.
Yeah, it sounds really cool.
Thank you. We think so too. Very streamlined, very "radio" song. Just 3 minutes in and out, kick people's asses and move along. It's kind of a cool feeling. We have a 12-minute song and 3- minute song and everything in between. It's nice to know we have some diversity there.
What can fans expect from Fozzy at Uproar?
We're going to steal the show every night. We're a very road-trained band. We've been touring in dozens of countries for the last 10 years. We have five amazing show business veterans who know exactly what to do to have a great show, to get the crowd into the show and to put on a show. I always like to say the only people that don't like Fozzy are the ones that have never heard us or seen us. That's gonna change at Uproar. My goal every night is for people to go, "You know Godsmack was great but Fozzy, man, those guys were amazing. We didn't expect them to be like that." That's what we like. We've made a whole career off of low expectations and I plan to blow people's heads off with this tour. I know we have the ability to. We're just raring to go and we're excited.
17 - Bonner Springs, KS - Cricket Wireless Amphitheater (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
18 - Little Rock, AR - Arkansas State Fair Complex (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
21 - Sauget, IL - Pop's
22 - Tinley Park, IL - First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
24 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
26 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
28 - Scranton, PA - Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
30 - New York City, NY - The Gramercy Theatre
31 - Burgettstown, PA - First Niagara Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
1 - Saratoga Springs, NY - Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
2 - Bristow, VA - Jiffy Lube Live (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
5 - Simpsonville, SC - Charter Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
7 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
8 - Noblesville, IN- Klipsch Music Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
9 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Blossom Music Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
11 - Raleigh, NC - Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
12 - Atlanta, GA - Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
13 - Tampa, FL - 1-800 ASK-GARY Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
15 - The Woodlands, TX - The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
16 - Dallas, TX - Gexa Energy Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
19 - Salt Lake City, UT - Usana Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
21 - Post Falls, ID - Greyhound Park and Event Center (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
22 - Auburn, WA - White River Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
23 - Ridgefield, WA - Sleep Country Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
25 - Nampa, ID - Idaho Center Amphitheatre (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
27 - West Hollywood, CA - The Roxy Theatre
29 - Phoenix, AZ - Ashley Furniture Home Store Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)
30 - Albuquerque, NM - Hard Rock Casino Albuquerque Presents the Pavilion (Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival)